Who Should Direct Star Wars 7? Let the Wild Speculation Begin
As you already know, George Lucas has sold Lucasfilm to Disney. In turn, Disney immediately announced plans to release a new Star Wars film in 2015, and not just any Star Wars film -- not another CGI prequel, in other words -- but the next installment in the ongoing saga, the fabled Episode 7.
Photo illustration by John Seaborn Gray
It's too early to get really excited about the project, but we can't help it. We love the original Star Wars trilogy, and were among the many, many people disappointed at how badly the prequels turned out. Well, okay, Revenge of the Sith was all right, but those first two really made us wonder what happened to George Lucas in the intervening years. How did one guy go from having a bounty hunter badass shoot an adversary dead in cold blood to writing lines like "Mooie mooie I love you!" for a digital frog-faced Stepin Fetchit?
Fears of our own softening and worsening with age as projected onto one filmmaker aside, the fact is that George Lucas won't be involved with Episode 7 as anything other than a creative consultant. That is great, great news. Writers Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan and director Irvin Kirschner gave us the best installment in the series, The Empire Strikes Back, so it's a proven fact that other people can work wonders with Lucas's material. Assuming the studio is smart enough to realize that doing Star Wars right and not letting hacks like Bret Ratner or Michael Bay anywhere near it will make them bazillions of dollars, this could be the resurrection that the fans have been waiting for.
So who should have the honors? Let's take a look at our ideal contenders.
Joss Whedon -- Whedon's nerd cred is nigh infinite thanks to his work on underappreciated-by-the-mainstream TV shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Dollhouse and Firefly, as well as a slew of successful comic book runs, including a truly remarkable storyline on The Astonishing X-men. 2012, however, saw Whedon smash Incredible Hulk-like into gigantic mainstream success with The Avengers, a film-slash-worldwide phenomenon which has grossed more than a billion and a half dollars total, making it the third highest-earning film of all time.
Whedon knows smart dialogue, he knows characterization, he knows humor. He knows big, rewarding, ass-kicking action, and he also knows how to make you care about who's doing and receiving the ass-kicking. Without sounding too much like a fanboy, he's pretty much the perfect choice. The only downside: He will take the character you love the most and remorselessly murder him/her/it. Count on it.
Brad Bird -- Lucasfilm's new association with Disney means they can draw from Pixar's considerable talent pool, and foremost among those must be Brad Bird. For Pixar he wrote and directed the wonderful Ratatouille and our personal favorite Pixar film, The Incredibles. Before that, he wrote and directed a little labor of love called The Iron Giant, a 1999 animated film which, though little seen at the time of its release, has gained a strong following through the years based on the sheer power of its storytelling. It'll break and then repair your heart. It'll make you completely unable to ever fully dismiss Vin Diesel.
The best way to ensure that Episode 7 is not just another empty visual feast but actually has a real, beating heart would be to put Bird in charge of it.
Christopher Nolan -- There's no doubt Nolan breathed new life into the Batman franchise after Joel Schumacher seemed to have killed it dead with a shotgun full of neon, glitter and rubber nipples. Nolan did what only the comics and the early 90's animated TV series had done: he made Batman interesting. Not just his villains, Batman himself; Nolan spent an entire film telling Batman's origin story, pitting the hero against lesser-known villains Scarecrow and Ras Al Ghul so that he would have time to grow and shine before having the spotlight stolen from him yet again by the Joker. That shows good storytelling instincts. And people disagree with us on this, but we found The Dark Knight Rises to be a highly fulfilling close to the trilogy.
Oh, and Nolan has also put out some good-to-great films in between Batman movies: Memento, The Prestige, Inception. Nolan understands a good slow build, suspense, twists and atmosphere like few filmmakers do. Really, it's a wonder he hasn't made a horror film yet, as most of his films have a truly unsettling air about them. He would give us a dark, intense Star Wars film, maybe one set on a barren ice planet where someone -- or something -- keeps picking off members of a shipwrecked and stranded band of Jedi. It would be nice to have a left-of-center Star Wars film, and he could definitely deliver one.